France on Tuesday called for its lawmakers to be given full access to “all of the interlocutors they wish to meet” after Israel said it would not allow a group of European officials, including French parliamentarians, to visit Israel due to their efforts to promote boycotts of the Jewish state.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced on Monday that he would adopt the recommendation of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to deny entry to the group’s 20 participants, among whom are French parliamentarians and mayors, and members of the European Parliament.
“In general, we want all French parliamentarians to have access to all of the interlocutors they wish to meet in order to conduct their fact-finding missions,” the spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“We are paying close attention to this matter with respect to Israel as with respect to all countries that French elected officials visit,” the statement added.
The group was scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority on November 19-23 and had announced that its primary purpose was to visit Marwan Barghouti and other Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails and offer them support.
Deri said that the group’s members would be refused entry if they landed in Israel, and that he would also notify them in advance in the hope that they will not make the journey at all.
“This is not the first time I have denied entry to BDS activists,” Deri said, “but this time it is a delegation of European officials who are coming in order to work against Israel, which gives [the decision] more weight.”
Erdan said that he advocates a policy of fighting against those who support the boycott campaign.
“We will not allow entry to those who actively call for harming the State of Israel, especially in light of their request to meet and offer support to the arch-murderer Barghouti, and thus to support terror,” he said. “We are talking about political leaders who actively support the boycott against Israel and even promote it.”
Barghouti is the former leader of the Tanzim armed wing of Fatah and was convicted by Israel of being the founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, another Fatah terror group.
He is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for masterminding deadly terror attacks during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.
Barghouti has remained politically active from behind bars, and is often touted as one of a few likely successors to 82-year-old Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
In April Barghouti led a mass hunger strike to get better conditions for prisoners, but also, according to pundits, to demonstrate his political power and authority.